Does a person's view of the qualities that members of particular groups have, reflect the reality of life, or are errors being made when groups and behaviours are observed? A definition of stereotypes with the fewest constraining assumptions is that they are qualities seen to be associated with particular groups or categories of people. Four key approaches, namely kernel of truth, illusory correlation, cognitive miser and self-categorisation theory will be closely looked into. I will attempt to answer a set of key questions that may help to address the situation. Firstly, How does each approach attempt to explain the origins of stereotypes? On the basis of their assumptions, where do these four positions stand on the issue of stereotype accuracy? Do they say stereotypes are always, sometimes or never inaccurate? This will allow me to relate the theories to each other and hence provide a better understanding on the question of accuracy.
[...] In the lab, it seems to work all the time and so it was concluded that, illusory correlation in group perception is a quite reliable phenomenon” (Hamilton and Sherman 1989, p.69) Stereotype accuracy I-C claims that stereotypes are always inaccurate. This is because stereotypes are formed on the basis of false combinations and so the likelihood of error is potentially high. People attempt to estimate difficult co-variations and so are prone to making errors when judging the relationship between two characteristics or events. [...]
[...] Stereotype accuracy Cognitive miser assumes stereotypes are always inaccurate. Stereotyping is an information processing error whereby the perceiver sacrifices accuracy in favour of efficiency. When we look at individuals solely, we have this non-stereotypical perception of the person, rich in detail. However, because our interests lie in processing information efficiently, in order to save energy resources and hence economize, we lose out on this rich, detailed informational aspect of the individual. In their view, individuation, though capacity-draining, is accurate whereas stereotypical, group-based views, though efficient, are skewed images and oversimplified distortions. [...]
[...] Conclusion Are all stereotypes accurate and acceptable because they are psychologically valid for the perceiver? Although SCT appears fruitful, we need to look at stereotypes in terms of their social validity. That is, the context of social, ideological and political processes that influence their formation. Therefore, to return to the beginning, ‘stereotypes are always inaccurate?' We can say that it's not as simple as that. There are many processes that take place within the individual, within groups, between groups and in our social world. [...]
[...] Also, accuracy depends on whether this convergence can be accepted by the stereotyped group in terms of their beliefs. In addition, the factual validity becomes controversial when a given group assigns unfavourable traits to itself. And so, do stereotypes have a ‘kernel of truth'? Evidence against it has by far outweighed evidence for it. However, they do say that stereotypes are partly accurate and that there is room for an individuals experiences to change their views, on top of the socialised fact. [...]
[...] For I-C to claim that stereotypes are inaccurate would mean that they develop under conditions where the perceiver has no pre-existing beliefs about the particular group in question. For adults, these conditions are extremely rare, yet they continuously form new stereotypes of groups that they have never encountered. McArthur and Friedman (1980) showed, using real groups that the illusory correlation effects were only found when the group acted in a way that was normative for them according to pre-existing beliefs. [...]
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